Glossary

The words we use have very specific meanings. This glossary is to help you better understand the reality we are pointing to, when we use different words.

 

Absolute truth

Absolute truth is the way things actually are. Relative truth is a helpful or useful way of understanding something that is not actually true. These terms can best be explained through an analogy. From our limited perspective of living on the earth, it appears that the sun rises in the morning. The concept of “sunrise” is a relative truth. It is a useful and accurate description of what is happening from our limited perspective. However, the absolute truth, as seen from space, is that the sun never rises. It is the earth spinning that causes to sun to appear to rise and set.

As in this example, relative and absolute truths often contradict each other, even though both have validity in their own way. This can lead to paradoxes, and for some, confusion. Mindful awareness is comfortable with both paradox, contradictions, and confusion, because it sees things directly as they are, without filtering it through concepts and language.

Relative truths are almost always based on language and concepts. Absolute truths are based in reality as-it-is, and can best be appreciated with a mind free of concepts. For example, conceptually there is past and future. These are relative truths, in that these concepts of past and future help us schedule meetings, plan travel, and so on. But the absolute reality is that the present moment is all there is. We experience life as one, continuous, eternal present-moment. The past no longer exists. It only exists as memories that occur in the now. The “future” is similarly mental imaginings about what might or may happen, but such imaginings occur in the now. Neither past nor future have any objective reality outside of our minds or outside of the now. All that exists is the present moment. The relative truth of past and future is conceptually based. The absolute truth of the present being all there is, is based on experiential reality, and needs to concepts to understand it.

The ego, which is conceptually-based, mistakes relative truths to be “the absolute truth” all of the time, and this results in confusion, disappointment, and frustration. As your meditation practice develops, the ego may also greedily cling to absolute truths and apply them unskillfully. Thankfully, mindful awareness can understand and appreciate both relative and absolute truths simultaneously and use them appropriately and skillfully to move through life with wisdom. 

 

Active delusion

Active forms of delusion includes any falsehoods which we consciously or unconsciously believe in the moment. Active delusions create upsetting, unskillful emotional reactions to arise within the body.

Active delusions can be made inactive if we mindfully see the delusional thoughts present, recognize them as a delusion, and don’t buy into their falsehoods. This allows us to remain in one of the four states of being (love, peace, compassion, or joy) despite any arising delusions.

At times, we can mindfully see a delusion, know that it is a delusion, and yet still have disturbing emotions be present. This is because the habit pattern of the delusion is stronger and more deeply ingrained than our current level of mindfulness. When this happens, respond by using the FEEL Technique.

 

anchor

The object that one focuses their attention on during a meditation. Typical meditation anchors include the sensations of the breath, sensations of the body, and sounds. When a meditator realizes they are “lost in thought,” they are instructed to gently and lovingly return their attention to the meditation anchor.

 

Attachment

See greed.

 

Aversion

An unpleasant, severely disturbing, and delusional mental state whose essential quality is a resistance, or desire to get away from, whatever is arising in the present moment. Aversion judges the present moment to be “bad,” “intolerable,” or “awful,” causing fear, anxiety, panic, hatred, anger, or similarly unskillful emotions to arise, which lead to unskillful actions.

The ego mistakenly believes that your resistance will make the unpleasant situation go away, but in reality, the resistance adds additional suffering to your experience, and causes you to act out in unskillful ways that further compounds the suffering you cause yourself and others.

Aversion is a major category of delusion. The many forms of aversion include judgment, hatred, anger, fear, anxiety, stress, panic, resistance, impatience, boredom, ill-will, and worry. Aversion, like all conditioned mental states, is subject to the law of impermanence and is of the nature to pass away on its own if calmly and mindfully observed.

Synonyms: Resistance.

 

Being

See Life.

 

comparison mind

 

A delusion whereby two or more forms are compared for the purpose of deeming some as “superior to” and “more deserving” than others, and others as “inferior to” and “less deserving.” This delusion creates false hierarchies and sets the stage for privileging those deemed superior and mistreating those deemed inferior.

A common example is comparing ourselves to those around us. If we feel superior to others, arrogance arises, and we mistreat those around us deeming them as less important or worthy of consideration. If we feel inferior to others, shame, sadness, apathy, discouragement, envy, anger, and similar emotions may arise and we may allow others to treat us poorly without making or enforcing healthy boundaries.

Given that delusion is based on falsehood, it is not surprising that both feelings of superiority and inferiority arise within the same person throughout the same day, or even within the same minute.

The absolute truth is that all life forms are worthy of love, compassion, and belonging. All life forms are to be honored, appreciated, and respected according to their needs. Because of the interdependent nature of all life forms, there is a radical egalitarianism between all life forms.

Moreover, life loves diversity. No two life forms are identical. All beings have had different life experiences. Given the diversity of life forms and their experiences, why compare them as if they are the same and have had the same life experiences? They have not. Each one is unique. We are all here to engage in this dance of life as our own unique, authentic manifestation. We can only be authentic to who we are, when we embrace the truth of the egalitarian nature of all life, and no longer allow the delusions of inferior and superior to obscure our true self.

 

compassion

A willingness to be intimate with that which is unpleasant.

When true compassion is present, you feel both unpleasant sensations arising, as well as a deep sense of peace, calmness, and equanimity that surrounds the unpleasant sensations. This felt experience of compassion arises when you mindfully feel unpleasant sensations with a mind free of the delusions of greed (to feel something else), aversion (to the unpleasant sensations), and self-view (the mental stories about the sensations).

Compassion naturally inspires us to ease the suffering of others and ourselves.

The ego confuses compassion with the unskillful mental and emotional states of despair, overwhelm, and burn-out. The delusion of self-view is strong in these egoic states. The ego says things like, “my suffering proves I care.” The suffering is personalized and made into a story where you are the victim or a tragic hero facing insurmountable odds. The story both justifies your needless suffering and causes you to needlessly suffer.

The ego also confuses pity with compassion.

Compassion is one of the ways we experience our fundamental nature.

 

Conditioning

The various causes and conditions that lawfully affect what arises in the present moment. These causes can be seen as both nature, the natural laws of the universe and our own biology, as well as nurture, the experiences and training we have received. Nature unfolds in a lawful manner due to many causes and conditions that are beyond our control. The ego is entirely conditioned, so when we are lost in ego, we have no free will, and are at the mercy of these natural and lawful forces. Only through mindfulness can we step out of our egoic delusion, and have a true freedom to choose our own destiny.

 

control

The ability to dictate the course of events as relates to our body, our thoughts, our emotions, or other people or situations. We lack full control over anything. If we had full control we could stop our thoughts at will; decide to have only loving, joyful, and skillful thoughts; only feel emotions of peace, love, and bliss; and demand the body never age, never become sick or injured, and never die. But we don’t have full control, because these forms are impersonal; they are not who we are; they are “not me, not mine.” In truth, we have some influence over these forms because of our special relationship with them, but these forms are still gifts to us from Life, and they operate according to Life’s rules.

 

Craving

See greed.

 

Delusion

A falsehood. A mental distortion in the mind that, when taken as truth, causes you to suffer and act unskillfully in a way that harms yourself and/or others. This term points to a factual reality and is used without any ill-will, judgment, or hostility, so do not take it personally. We recognize that delusion is inside all of us who suffer. Through mindfulness, we can see the delusion operating in ourselves, feel how it causes us to suffer, experience how it causes us to act unskillfully, and see its essential falsehood. The more we see this, the less power that delusion has over us and the more that wisdom arises within us.

Delusion can show up as one or more thoughts, stories, emotions, mental states, moods, reactive habit patterns, or unskillful behavior. The way we know a delusion is activated in us is that we do not feel peaceful, calm, content, and grounded in the present moment. So when you are not at ease, let that remind you to be mindful.

 

Divine abodes

Ego

The false self. The collection of delusions that reside within each of us, that masquerades as who we are. Our unobserved thoughts, stories, emotions, and habit patterns that unconsciously run our life when we are not mindful. The ego is entirely conditioned by nature (such as our genetics) and nurture (such as our life experiences). When we are lost in ego, our behaviors are controlled by our conditioning and we have no free will.

 

Equanimity

A calm, peaceful, balanced and objective mental attitude that allows one to see clearly and accept fully the unfolding of internal and external events. This attitude of equanimity allows a person to see arising delusions in a calm, objective manner and not be deceived by them, or become reactive to them. Equanimity allows a person to accept the reality of the now, so they can respond to the arising situation in a skillful, helpful, calm, and peaceful manner.

Greed and aversion are the direct opposites of equanimity. The ego incorrectly mistakes apathy, discouragement, and “not caring” as equanimity. In apathy, one is mentally and emotionally shutting down, closing off, and disconnecting from a situation. This makes apathy an aversive and delusional strategy. In equanimity, one is mindfully connecting to the situation, yet remains accepting and balanced because wisdom recognizes that reactivity, aversion, greed are unskillful and unhelpful.

The antidote to apathy is compassion: a willingness to be intimate with what is unpleasant.

Equanimity is the antidote for addressing all kinds of greed: lust, craving, wanting, envy, jealousy, addiction, and so on.

Equanimity is one of the four states of being that naturally arises when there are no active delusions in the mind. The other three states are: love, compassion, and joy.

Synonyms: Peace

 

Feeling tone

A feeling tone is your felt sense of if an experience is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. All internal experiences such as thoughts, emotions, sensations, and moods, have a feeling tone.

The ego tends to cling, grasp, and be greedy with pleasant experiences, wanting them to last forever. This greed creates suffering when these pleasant experiences go away, or no longer provide pleasure to the same degree.

The ego is aversive towards unpleasant experiences, wanting them to go away. This resistance creates additional suffering much greater in magnitude than the original suffering.

The ego deems neutral experiences, as unimportant, boring, and typically ignores them. This judgment of neutral experiences also creates additional suffering, and an unwillingness to be present with neutral experiences.

Mindful awareness can peacefully and easefully be with pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings tones with a lot of balance in the mind. Awareness is curious to investigate them, feel them fully, and not mindlessly or unconsciously react to them. Mindfully examining unpleasant experiences in a calm, relaxed, open manner helps build empathy, compassion, love, courage, and wisdom. Sometimes unpleasant feelings are so intensely unpleasant that they disturb the balance of the mind. When this happens, gently switch to breath meditation for as long as is necessary for the mind to regain its balance and composure.

  

A map is not the terrain, in the same way that words are not the truth.

A map is not the terrain, in the same way that words are not the truth.

Fixed-view

Mistaking a thought or story to be the truth.

Fixed-view is a form of delusion. To explain the delusion, let me use an analogy. In the same way that a map is not the terrain, words are not the truth. In order for maps to be useful, the map has to dramatically simplify and symbolically represent the features on land. In order for a map to 100%, perfectly accurate, it would need to be three dimensional and identical in size to the terrain, which would it unwieldy and useless. But in simplifying and symbolically representing the features on land, the map leaves out a lot of information and distorts the truth of the landscape.

In the same way, words dramatically simplify and symbolically represent something else. In doing this, they often leave out information and distort the truth of reality as-it-is.

If you have been meditating and learning to spot the delusions of your thoughts, you have probably realized that much of your thinking is delusional. When a delusional thought, such as “Life sucks!” is mistaken as the truth, it brings much misery. However, even skillful thoughts that are free of delusion can be problematic when mistaken to be the whole truth.

For example, at some point along our meditation path, the insight arises that all of our suffering is self-inflicted. This absolute truth could solidify in the fixed-view that, “everyone is responsible for their own suffering.” By mistaking these words to be the truth, the delusion in us starts treating other people poorly and when they are offended or hurt, the ego in us tells them, “you are responsible for your own suffering.” Here we have an absolute truth, put into conceptual language, and then mistaken to be the whole truth, harming others. That is why fixed-view is delusional, because like all delusions, it is false and leads to unskillful acts that harm yourself and others.

But how can an absolute truth be false? Well, the concept-based fixed-view of this absolute truth leaves out the reality that we are operating in a world where two conflicting realities are at work simultaneously: absolute truth and relative truth. The conceptual story, “everyone is responsible for their own suffering,” ignores this reality and is thus limited and distorted.

Mindful awareness, on the other hand, can non-conceptually know and understand both absolute and relative truths at the same time. Mindful awareness can be aware that on an absolute level everyone is responsible for their own suffering, while also recognizing that on a relative level, those who are trapped in ego (which is most of us) experience a life where external events cause us to suffer. Letting go of fixed views, we can hold both of these understandings at once. This allows us to continue our inner journey of accepting our own responsibility for our suffering and purifying our heart and mind of delusion, while skillfully continuing to treat all life with kindness and respect.

Therefore, when we listen to others, we must not concern ourselves with the words they use, but try to see beyond the words they use to the reality they are trying to point to. Keep in mind that delusion is also a part of our reality, so if their words point to delusion, be mindful of that too. Either way, what is important is the truth of reality “as it is,” not the words attempting to describe that reality. 

In addition, when we speak, we must do our best to speak in a way that accurately represents the truth, while simultaneously recognizing that the words we use are not the truth. In this way, we hold our thoughts and stories loosely, not mistaking them to be the truth.

Finally, the delusion of fixed-view is a major reason why we have such difficulty with change. The ego seeks to create conceptual stories about life: “this is mine,” “this software works like that,” “I am a manager,” ad infinitum. The ego finds comfort in its stories. But in a dynamic universe that is constantly changing, these stories are only true temporarily, at best. What was “yours” becomes lost or stolen. The software is infected with a virus changing how it works. You get laid off.

Because of the fixed-view story in our heads, when change happens, we resist it, which causes fear, anxiety, worry, anger, hostility, depression, or a variety of other emotional disturbances to arise. The ego found security in the story, but as always happens, reality comes along and reveals the story to be untrue. The ego will cause you to suffer until it can find a new story to believe, which will again give it a false sense of security, until more change comes along, triggering the whole cycle of loss and suffering again.

As meditators, our task is to see the impermanent, changing, dynamic nature of all reality. We find comfort in knowing this truth of impermanence. Then when the inevitable changes happen, it doesn’t cause us to suffer, because we accept it. “Aha! Change has come again, just like the law of impermanence says it would. I take comfort that reality is still working the same as it always has.” Recognizing this law, we are comforted by the groundlessness of life. We see loss and change as an opportunity for growth and a space for new things to arise in our life. Seeing impermanence helps us to hold our thoughts less tightly and be less prone to the delusion of fixed-view.

 

form

Any and all objects, be they material or immaterial, visible or invisible. Visible material objects include trees, houses, cars, bodies and so on. Invisible, immaterial objects include thoughts, emotions, sensations, habit-patterns, as well as air, wind, and so on.

All forms have two defining characteristics: they are impermanent and impersonal.

 

Formless

See Life.

Ghost drawing.jpg

If we drew a picture of a ghost, mistook it to be real, and then became frightened of the drawn ghost, that would be delusional. Yet we do this all the time, only the picture we draw is a story about the future, and we draw it with words and images in our mind. When we mistake these imagined stories to be more true than the present moment, that is the delusion of futuring.

Futuring

1. A delusion whereby a conceptually-imagined negative “future” is mistaken to be more real than the present moment. As a result, fear, anxiety, stress, grief, apathy, burnout, sadness and other unpleasant emotional disturbances arise.

An example would be being late for work and imaging being yelled at by your boss or getting fired, causing fear and anxiety to arise in you as you bike or drive to work, which may cause you to bike or drive less mindfully, and less safely, putting yourself and others at risk.

Thoughts of the future will arise, but see them mindfully, knowing they are merely drawings, and not realities. Don’t mistake them for the truth as this will cause the negative emotions listed above to arise. Remember the absolute truth that the now is all there is. As you bike or drive, notice that right now, you are not being yelled at by your boss or getting fired. Right now, you are biking or driving and it is wise to place your attention on biking or driving safely and skillfully out of love for yourself and others.

Live in the truth that the present moment is all there is. Have all of your actions in the present moment be inspired by love for all life. Mindfully reflect on all of the unwanted life experiences you have already managed to live through, and let your ability to keep going despite these challenges give you confidence that Life will continue to give you the physical and emotional resources necessary to survive, thrive, and live in peace for the rest of your days.

measuring tape.jpg

Here is another way that futuring happens. First, we imagine a wonderful future such as one where all of our dreams have come true. Then we use that false, imagined story as a ruler by which to judge our present situation and find it lacking. This leads to a constant state of fear, anxiety, disappointment, dissatisfaction, sadness, and misery.

2. A delusion whereby we mistake a conceptually-imagined, positive “future” (or “goal”) as necessary for us to finally be happy. This imagined future is used as a ruler to measure, compare, and judge our present-moment reality, our actions, and our behaviors. Furturing delusionally encourages us to look for our happiness externally, where it cannot be found. Futuring often recruits and causes to arise other delusions such as greed for the desired future, comparison mind, aversion such as fears of failure in achieving the desired future, and self-view where there is a strong sense of me, mine, and my around this imagined future and the need to attain it. 

This delusion results in the arising of many unpleasant emotional states including: greed, lust, desire, envy, jealousy, fear, anxiety, frustration, disappointment, dissatisfaction, and more. In other words, future goals, when seen as necessary for our happiness, cause perpetual discontent. Even when finally achieved, it is not how one expected it to be. There are more drawbacks and complications. Moreover, additional goals arise to fill the void of the goal that was achieved, and the cycle of dissatisfaction continues.

When this delusion arises, remember these two truths: peace and joy arise from within, and the now is all that exists. The delusion in us believes that peace and joy naturally arises due to our external situation. In reality, they arise when our mind is free from delusion, or when we are mindfully watching whatever mental and emotional delusions are present in the mind. To be happy, we need to be mindful of our mental and emotional states, so wisdom arises, sees the truth, and then aligns our mind, heart, and body with these self-evident truths, allowing us to live from peace and joy in the now. 

Furthermore, the only time we can be peaceful, content, relaxed, and joyful is now, because the now is all that exists. If we are not peaceful and joyful now, then we are not peaceful and joyful. We can’t trade stress, fear, and greediness now, for happiness in the future. If we are stressed, fearful, and greedy now, then we are practicing how to be stressed, fearful, and greedy in the future. Whereas if we are calm, peaceful, and joyful now, we are practicing how to be calm, peaceful, and joyful in the future.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with setting goals. Goals based in loving intentions for all life provide us with clear, skillful direction, and inspire us to be creative, courageous, and generous. Just don’t fall prey to the delusion that you need to achieve your goal in order to be happy. Happiness is within your reach now. Furthermore, don’t prioritize achieving your goal above acting skillfully in a manner that respects the worth and value of all life, including your own. The “ends justify the means” thinking is also delusional. Let every step you take towards your goal be done with peace, love, joy, ease, and patience.

 

Gift economy

Wealth and resources are managed by freely moving through the community to ensure that everyone gets their needs met. Good and valuables are not traded or sold, but joyfully given to others for their benefit. When we look at the natural world, we see that it is set up as a gift economy. The sun, wind, rain, soils, bacteria, fungus, plants, and so on, give freely of their surplus. Before contact with market economies, most native and aboriginal communities primarily operated as a gift economy.

For more information, visit, “The Universe is a Gift Economy" Talk and Summary.

  

“God the Father” by Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Battista Cima (c. 1459 – c. 1517) Photo Credit:    The Courtauld Institute of Art

“God the Father” by Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Battista Cima (c. 1459 – c. 1517) Photo Credit: The Courtauld Institute of Art

God

A giant, old white guy with a long, flowing white beard who sits in the sky on a throne of clouds. Kidding! :P

Because the term God has been overlaid with many inaccurate conceptual layers over the centuries, and these concepts often prevent us from knowing the reality to which the word points, we prefer to use the words Life, Source, Being, or other synonyms to refer to this reality. For the actual definition of God, see Life.

Grasping

See greed.

 

Great Mystery

See Life.

 

Great Spirit

See Life.

 

Greed

Greed is a very unpleasant delusional state, often driven by fear, anxiety, self-view, and an urgent, restless quality. The ego believes the only way to get rid of the unpleasantness of greed is by obtaining what is desired, and this is part of the delusion. Greed is willing to sacrifice the peace, joy, and contentment of living in the present-moment, for some over-valued situation in the future. Yet, we can only ever be happy in the present-moment, because that is all there is. Life is experienced as one, long, eternal present moment. So if you are not practicing how to be peaceful, calm, and happy now, you are practicing how to be dissatisfied, anxious, and stressed, and that is what greed does. The happiness we seek is already inside of us, as it is part of our fundamental nature, but the delusion of greed obscures this truth.

Greed overvalues the desired object. The mind frantically spins, schemes, and obsesses over the desired object, the heart constricts, the focus narrows, and this often results in unskillful behavior that harms ones self or others. When lost in greed, there is a compulsive quality to it, and a sense of having no control or free will. If the object is obtained, the joy it brings is short-lived and temporary, or unexpected consequences make its obtainment disappointing. Either way, the greedy ego has already moved on, deciding it needs more or something else to be happy and is now on a quest for it, creating a perpetual state of dissatisfaction.

Greed is a major category of delusion. The many forms of greed include lust, addiction, jealousy, and envy. Greed, like all conditioned mental states, is subject to the law of impermanence and is of the nature to pass away on its own if calmly and mindfully observed.

Synonyms: Clinging, Craving, Grasping, Lust, Wanting.

 

I

The ego mistakes “I” to be something that is solid and real. The ego, through self-view, takes the body, the mind, the thoughts, the emotions, the sensations, habit-patterns, and anything it conceptually mistakes to be “me” or “mine” to be who you are. But all of this is just impermanent and impersonal thoughts and stories that are mistakenly believed. Everything the ego identifies with is something that will cause you to suffer. The ego believes that you have control over, or should have control over, that which is “I,” but every time reality shows you this is not the case, you suffer. Or you will mindfully see the ego identifying to that which is impersonal, and this will help you see the truth and come out of your suffering.

When an enlightened person says “I,” they are not referring to the body, the mind, the thoughts, the emotions, the sensations, or anything external to them. They know all of this to be impersonal and impermanent nature unfolding lawfully due to various causes and conditions. When an awakened person says “I,” they are referring to their deepest essence, their true self, beyond name and form, which is the source of all love, joy, peace, compassion, knowing, wisdom, creativity, and life.

Synonym: me

 

Identification

See self-view.

 

ill will

Wishing harm or injury to another. Ill will arises when the delusion of judgment is present. 

Judgment can be defined as disliking and devaluing the worth and needs of another person, being, life form, or situation. Judgment is delusional because it is blinded to the whole situation. Judgment only sees what it considers to be “bad” or “wrong” about someone else or the situation. With the narrow, constricted view of judgment, one loses the big picture wisdom of love, which sees that everyone, and every situation has its place and purpose. Ill will and judgment are aspects of the delusions of aversion and fixed-view.

When not mindful of ill will, it will cause you to act impulsively in an unskillful manner that harms yourself and others. Ill will is a very unpleasant state, and often generates the emotions of anger, hatred, stress, and spite. Like all delusional states, ill will poisons the body and mind.

Like all conditioned mental states, both ill will and judgment are subject to the law of impermanence and are of the nature to pass away on their own if calmly and mindfully observed.

 

impermanent

The immutable law that all forms, experiences, and situations are dynamic, changing, unstable, and destined to be lost, destroyed, or transformed into something else. Although evidence for the impermanence of all forms exists all around us, our ego mistakes the thoughts we have as the truth (the delusion of fixed-view), causing us to expect objects, experiences, and situations to be more lasting and permanent than they are. Then when change inevitably comes, our fixed-view leads to the delusion of resistance (arising as fear, anxiety, dread, anger, stress, denial, and so on) which causes us to suffer. The ego in us mistakenly believes that our suffering is caused by the change, and that our suffering will somehow get us back what we want. Both of these egoic thoughts are untrue. In reality, the resistance we have is the cause of the suffering we experience. There is nothing intrinsic to the change that causes us to suffer. The suffering arises based on our perception of the experience. When we perceive the experience with the delusions of fixed-view, resistance, and greed (the delusion to want something other than the present moment), these mental states create our psychological and emotional suffering.

When we take refuge in the absolute truth that all forms are impermanent, we let go of fixed-views, resistance to change, and greed for that which has been lost, and accept the present moment as it unfolds. Then, when unpleasant change happens, it doesn’t scare, surprise, or upset us, because we know change is the nature of reality in the world of form. Being continuously mindful of this truth allows us to immediately, with grace, ease, and peace, accept the present moment as it is.

The absolute truth of impermanence, when continually noticed and practiced, has the ability take you to a life free from suffering.

Antonym: fixed-view

 

impersonal

1. An absolute truth that all forms are “not me, not mine.” Forms are “not me, not mine” because we have no control or ownership over any form, so why would we mistake that form to be who we are? All forms are organized according to biological and natural laws, and although we have some influence over some forms, we lack total control or ownership over any forms. We also lack control of the body, the thoughts, the emotions, and the sensations. Thus, when we mistakenly identify with, or see ourselves in any form, it results in our suffering. The impersonal nature of form is the absolute truth that counters the delusion of self-view.

Synonyms: nature
Antonyms: identification, self-view

2. Recognition that something is not about you. For example, if someone insults you, their insult says more about their mental state and perception that it does about you. Specifically, it says this person is lost in the delusion of ill will, which results from their impersonal conditioning, so there is no need to take it personally. You may even have compassion for them and their predicament, and respond with love, by mindfully listening to them, hearing them out, and neither confirming nor denying what they say. When you are mindful in this way, their ego, which is looking to feed on an argument or some drama, is not fed, allowing the situation to deescalate.

 

Inactive delusion

A falsehood in the mind that is clearly seen as a falsehood and thus does not become a disturbing emotional reaction such as fear, anxiety, anger, hatred, lust, jealousy, and so on. Or, if the delusion belief is unconscious, and a disturbing emotional reaction arises without any visible falsehood present, you can use the FEEL Technique to deactivate this emotional falsehood.

 

influence

The ability to have an effect on a form. We have some ability to influence the health and well-being of our bodies, to generate specific thoughts, and to bring about certain emotions, but there are other laws of nature that are at work that prevent us from having full control over any of these forms. Since we lack control over them, it does not make sense to take any of these things personally. The body aging, getting injured, being sick, and dying are impersonal nature lawfully unfolding. The thoughts of ill-will, greed, and cruelty that arise in us are impersonal nature lawfully unfolding. The arising emotions of anger, hatred, fear, and lust, are impersonal nature lawfully unfolding. None of this is to be taken personally. When we do take it personally, or mistake it for who we are, we are lost in delusion. We know this because it causes us to suffer and act unskillfully in a way that harms ourselves and others.

Participants at the third International Intersex Forum held in Malta, December 2013. Photo Credit:    Organisation Intersex International Australia   .

Participants at the third International Intersex Forum held in Malta, December 2013. Photo Credit: Organisation Intersex International Australia.

intersex

According to the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), “’Intersex’ is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like [a] labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.”

A rough estimate of 1 in 1,500 people are born intersex. Although an inborn condition, the ISNA continues, “Sometimes a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until she or he reaches the age of puberty, or finds himself an infertile adult, or dies of old age and is autopsied.”

At the Boundless Love Project, we love, value, and cherish intersex people. Like you, intersex people want to be happy and be free from suffering. Like you, they want to be respected and understood.

Intersex people serve a vital role in helping all people break out of the rigid, delusional fixed-view that there is only male and female, and a person is either one or the other. This fixed-view, has created much suffering for all people by enforcing rigid gender roles, and devaluing female-bodied, intersex, and transgender people.

Thank you intersex people for your gift in helping all of humanity awaken out of our delusion. May you be safe and protected, peaceful and happy, healthy and strong, and may your heart be at ease in any and all situations.

Learn more about intersex people at the INSA website.

 

intention

The motivation behind all acts of thought, speech, and behavior. Intentions can be felt as the “about to…” energy or impulse in the mind or body immediately before you do something. Intentions are a key ingredient in all acts of thought, speech, and behavior.

Buddhism classifies the intentions into six categories, three which are skillful: non-greed (renunciation), non-ill will (love), and non-cruelty (compassion); and three which are unskillful: greed, ill will, and cruelty.

The kind of intention that arises in the next moment is highly influenced by the kind of intention that arises in the present moment. Or to put it another way, if this moment’s intentions are loving and compassionate, future intentions are more likely to be loving and compassionate.

Therefore, our task is to continuously be mindful of the intentions behind our thoughts, speech, and actions for the purpose of only acting on those intentions which are skillful, while allowing unskillful intentions to be mindfully watched (and not acted upon) until they go away on their own, as is their nature to do. The less we act on unskillful intentions, the less power and influence they have over us, and the less they arise.

Furthermore, watching unskillful intentions arise and pass away on their own, is more effective at weeding them from our mind, than it is to be aversive to those intentions. If we respond to unskillful intentions with hostility, judgment, shame, ill-will, or other type of aversion, all of these reactions are fueled by unskillful intentions. In essence, the ego has tricked us into allowing the unskillful intentions to enter “through the back door.” Of course, if these “back door” reactions are also mindfully watched, seen as unskillful, and not acted upon, then all is well, as this too will help us weed them from the mind.

It is the intention behind your actions that determines the skillful effects of your actions. So if you do skillful actions with unskillful intentions, the results are often unskillful. Our task is to do skillful actions with skillful intentions. 

The more that we are mindful of our intentions, and only act on thoughts and behaviors based on skillful intentions, the more wisdom moves through us, and the more we feel our deepest essence of love, joy, peace and compassion.

 

Joy

Intimacy with what is pleasant, that is free of attachment to it. Joy allows us to enjoy that which is beautiful, skillful, unifying, and pleasant while it arises, and does not cause us to suffer when those things have passed away, as is their nature to do.

Joy arises when we are able to recognize and celebrate the skillful joy of ourselves, other people, other beings, and other life forms. Imagine how happy you would be if the happiness of others made you happy?

This ability to resonate with the joy of other’s happiness is the antidote to the delusions of jealousy, envy, and comparison mind.

The ego confuses joy with indulging in sense pleasures. However, this egoic strategy, which adds the delusion of clinging to joy, leads to suffering. When the sense pleasure goes away or changes, which is inevitable, one will be sad and miserable. This egoic strategy leads to addiction. The antidote for indulging in sense pleasures, is love for yourself, your well-being, and the well-being of others.

Joy is one of the four primary states of being. The other three being love, peace, and compassion. These states are our fundamental nature. However, to experience these states, one must be free of active delusions.

 

judgment

Disliking and devaluing the worth and needs of another person, being, life form, or situation. This devaluing of others can also result from over-valuing the needs and wants of certain life forms. It creates a hierarchy where those on top deserve special treatment, while the needs of those below matter less or not at all.

Judgment is delusional because it is blinded to the whole situation. Judgment only sees what it considers to be “bad” or “wrong” about someone else or the situation, or conversely what is “good” or “right” with others such that they are seen as superior. With the narrow, constricted view of judgment, one loses the big picture wisdom of love, which sees that everyone, and every situation has its place and purpose. Judgment is one aspect of the delusion of aversion.

When not mindful of judgment, it will cause you to act impulsively in an unskillful manner that harms yourself and others. Judgment that devalues others is a very unpleasant state, and often generates stress, anger, hatred, ill will, and spite. Like all delusional states, judgment poisons the body and mind.

Judgment that leads you to feel superior may, at times, be highly pleasant, but the more pleasant it is, the more suffering you will experience when reality knocks you off of your high horse, or when you see clearly how your superiority caused you to act in unskillful ways that hurt yourself and others.

Like all conditioned mental states, judgment is subject to the law of impermanence and is of the nature to pass away on its own if calmly and mindfully observed.

 

labeling

Defining a person, being or situation, by one or a few behaviors or aspects of their form. For example, “They are all lazy,” “You are a jerk,” “I’m an idiot,” even, “I’m hungry” or “I’m exhausted.” These behaviors or aspects may be real, or they may be false, yet mistaken by the ego as the truth. Even if the perception is accurate, labeling is delusional because you are not seeing the whole truth.

Labeling narrows our perception down to seeing only one aspect, such as that which is deemed negative. When we define a person, being, or situation, according to their perceived flaws, we are engaged in tunnel vision and forgetting that their essential nature, like ours, is one of boundless love, peace, joy, and compassion. We are defining them by their ego, and in doing this, we are entering a delusional and egoic state of consciousness as well. Treat all forms as sacred, holy, and worthy of our love and compassion. Even those forms that are imprisoned by delusion and acting unskillfully, are still, at their core, sacred, holy, and worthy of our love and compassion.

Alternately, you may be labeling someone based exclusively on their positive features: “My child is a perfect angel.” When this positive label is mistaken for the truth, it will prevent you from seeing clearly the ways in which your child harms herself and others; you will not be able to help her grow in skillfulness, and come out of her suffering. If another family says your child hit their child, this delusion will cause you to discount their statement at once, creating enmity, bitterness, and ill-will. If the delusion of labeling had not been present, there would have been the possibility of openness, a sincere inquiry into the truth, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Labeling is one manifestation of the delusion of judgment. Be mindful for thoughts that contain labeling and know they are delusional whether the label be positive or negative.

 

Life

The deepest essence and animating force of all forms. The source of all love, joy, peace, compassion, awareness, wisdom, creativity, and life.

Awakened people from all wisdom traditions who have experienced it, tell us it is eternal, unborn, and undying. It is infinite, permanent, unconditioned, and indestructible, yet it is not “something” because it is formless and nothing. It is vast spaciousness, great stillness, absolute silence, and radiant light. It is both our essential nature, and inconceivably greater than us. It is the part of us that is already perfect, complete, and whole. To experience it, is to know the unity and oneness of all forms, and all Life.

What it is cannot be understood conceptually, but can only be known and experienced directly. To know this reality the mind must be very quiet, very still, very tranquil, mindful, and free of all delusions. Thankfully, it is unimportant whether or not we believe in this reality. Knowing this reality has nothing to do with belief. All that is asked of us is that we be open-minded and willing to experience this reality should it present itself.

Synonyms: Being, Formless, Great Mystery, Great Spirit, God, Soul, Source, True Self.

 

Love

True love is what is present when the mind is free of all delusion, including those of greed, aversion, self-view, and fixed-view. Love is felt in the body as a open spaciousness, peace, ease, pleasant tingling sensations, connection and intimacy, or a warmth that sometimes radiates out of, or oozes throughout, the body. Love is a tremendously pleasant sensation.

Love inspires us to genuinely desire the wellbeing of ourselves and others. Love can be expressed in simple wishes of kindness: “May you be happy and peaceful, healthy and strong, safe and protected, and live with ease in all situations.” 

Because love is free of the lust and clinging of greed, it contains no wanting. Therefore, love is freely offered without any conditions placed on the objects of our love. The objects of our love include all friends and foes, all who are skillful or unskillful, all who are near or far, and all who are known or unknown. This makes love unconditional. Unconditional love is in alignment with the absolute truth that all beings and all life shares our desire to be safe, healthy, joyful, calm, and free from suffering.

Because love is free of the delusion of judgment, it is also boundless. All people, all beings, and all life are appropriate recipients of our love. To narrow our love down to only the people who are nice to us, or to just human beings, or to some other egoically-created group, is to delusionally judge all those outside of the group to be less worthy of our love. Such judgment creates a false hierarchy that ignores the absolute truth that all life forms (human, animal, and environmental) are interdependent with each other. Just as the human body dies if either the heart, lungs, brain, blood, or skeletal system is removed; we all suffer if the air, water, or land are polluted, or if groups of people or animals are harmed and exploited. 

The precursor for love to arise is to see the inherent goodness, value, and worth of something. That something can be yourself, someone else (human or non-human), any life form (tree, houseplant, river, mountain, cloud, boulder, and so on), or any situation.

The ego confuses love with lust, wanting, and craving. The ego thinks, “I want you so much, it must be love.” But this egoic or false love of wanting is a very unpleasant mental and emotional state.

False love seeks its happiness in external situations, and in the future, where happiness cannot be found. False love can also be identified by its ability to instantly turn into hatred, jealousy, anger, cruelty, violence, and other unskillful mental and emotional states, and actions. True love never leads to these unskillful states.

It is helpful to also understand true love as an intention that motivates your thoughts, words, and deeds, rather than a prescribed set of actions or behavior. Wisdom works in tandem with love to determine what is truly skillful to do in the moment, given the facts of the situation. The more you feel and experience your internal love, the more your innate wisdom will help you relate to your life experience with loving intentions.

Depending on the situation, love can be experienced as joy, peace, compassion, forgiveness, or itself.

Love is an expression of your fundamental nature. However, the felt-experience of love is quite subtle, and is easily obscured and hidden by the more dramatic emotions that arise in response to the delusions in the mind. Mindfulness helps us to see this all clearly and allows us to weed the delusions from the mind, so we can live with more love, peace, joy, compassion, and wisdom.

Synonym: kindness, loving-kindness
Antonym: hatred, ill-will

 

Lust

1. See greed.

2. Greed for sexual experiences.

 

me

See I.

 

Mind

The part of the body responsible for generating thought and concepts, and the associated emotions they generate in the body. In an untrained mind, the thinking mind endlessly spews out thoughts, most of which are repetitive, useless, or delusional. Delusional thoughts, when believed, are reflected in the body as disturbing, unpleasant emotions. These negative emotions then generate more disturbing thoughts creating an escalating vicious circle of needless psychological suffering that result in unskillful actions.

The mind is a wonderful tool when used correctly. When used correctly, it can help us communicate with one another, help us learn from the past, and help us chart a course into the future. But the mind is easily deluded. It mistakes words to be the truth, stories of past and future to be reality, concepts of self to be who we are, and more. When lost in these delusions we suffer and act unskillfully harming ourselves and others.

To go beyond mind, we must be the watcher, the awareness that observes the mind in a calm, relaxed, and healthfully detached manner; the awareness that sees all of the mind’s thoughts and emotions as impersonal and impermanent. In this way, our awareness, which is of a higher consciousness than that of the mind, can see the mind’s delusions as delusions and not become ensnared by them. This is what mindfulness meditation trains us to do.

 

Mine

See my.

 

Misery

See suffering.

 

my

The ego in us mistakes the words “my” and “mine” to mean “owning, and having control over.” My thoughts, my emotions, my body, my spouse, my child, my dog, my car. This definition is delusional because all forms we encounter are a gift from Life and operate based on Life’s rules that forms are impermanent and impersonal. We know the ego’s definition of “my” is delusional, because it causes us to suffer whenever the truth of reality shows us that we lack total control and ownership over those things we call “my” or “mine.”

Wise people use the word “my” and “mine” to denote “having a special relationship with,” rather than “possession or control over.” Thus, “My thoughts and emotions” are the thoughts and emotions that I am allowed to know, but I certainly don’t create them or control them, otherwise I would set them to only think loving, compassionate, wise thoughts and generate only joyful, loving, and calm emotions. Certainly, we have some influence over thoughts and emotions, but influence is very different from having total control over them.

“My body” is the body that my true self is attached to. I am responsible for its care, but I don’t control it either. If we did control our bodies, we would set them to never get sick, injured, or die. “My spouse” is the person I value, love, and respect in such a way that I want to start a family with them. “My child,” whether born or adopted, is the gift from Life to our family. Anyone who is married, or has a child or an animal companion can readily attest to the fact that you do not have total control over them. Ha ha! :P

Save yourself a lot of grief by knowing that when you say or hear the words “my” or “mine,” what is being referred to is a special relationship, not the control or ownership of something or someone.

To stay mindful of this fact, some meditators, at times, find it helpful to substitute “my” or “mine” with “the” or “this.” In this way, “my thoughts,” “my emotions,” “my mind,” and “my body” become “the thoughts,” “the emotions,” “this mind,” and “this body.” Doing this reminds us that we are the “watcher” of these things, rather than the owner or controller of them.

 

nature

1. All of the various forces and causes at work that create the present moment. This includes the natural laws of the universe that cause all things to be as they are. These natural laws include the laws that govern how our mind, heart, and body react to external stimuli.

Synonym: impersonal, conditioning
Antonym: self-view, identification

2. In discussions about whether human behavior is “nature or nurture,” nature refers to the innate factors (such as genetics and biology) that determine a person’s personality and behavior.

 

near enemy

Delusional mental or emotional states that are frequently confused with being a skillful state.

Lust, greed, and grief are near enemies of love. Apathy is a near enemy of peace. Despair and pity are near enemies of compassion. Indulgence in sensual pleasures is a near enemy of joy.

 

Neutral

A feeling tone that is neither pleasant nor unpleasant.

 

pain

1. Unpleasant physical sensations.

When Buddhist monk, Thick Nhat Hahn says, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional,” he is defining pain to mean the unpleasant physical sensations, and suffering to be the unnecessary psychological unpleasantness that is created by a mind resisting the physical pain.

It is helpful to let pain be pain. Don’t resist it mentally and don’t cling to being pain-free. Such mental states of aversion and greed actually intensify physical pain and add additional mental layers of suffering.

If the pain is great, place your attention on an area of the body that feels pleasant or neutral. If you have practiced breath meditation, do either dedicated breath meditation or breath meditation as you go about your day to help you stay grounded in the present moment and find relief.

If the pain is not too bad you can mindfully investigate it. What is pain really? How would you describe it? Heat? Pressure? Piercing? Stinging? Try to use neutral terms to describe it. Pay particular attention to the margins of the pain, those areas between where you are pain-free and where the pain starts. This area is where the healing is taking place, and pain will be to a lesser degree.

When you can calmly investigate unpleasant physical sensations in this way, you gain many insights. One is that pain is dynamic, constantly changing, and subject to the law of impermanence, therefore, it too shall pass. Secondly, pain is impersonal arising due to causes and conditions. It is just nature doing its thing. It’s not personal. Finally, when one sees the impermanent and impersonal nature of pain, one can actually get close to and experience pain while remaining calm and peaceful.

2. All unpleasantness, whether physical or mental.

We avoid using the term pain in this way, but at times, it happens. Hopefully through context you can deduce which of the two meanings is intended.

 

past-ing

The delusion of mistaking our thoughts about the past as being more real or important than the present moment. We know this delusion is active when we feel emotions that are more appropriate for the remembered situation than for our current situation. For example, if I am sitting safely at home in a chair, and then remember the time I almost fell off of a cliff, and the body feels fear, panic, and anxiety, then the delusion of past-ing is active in me.

Pasting causes suffering in a variety of ways: by having us re-experience traumatic events; by creating limiting and false beliefs about what we cannot do, tolerate, understand, or achieve; and by causing us constant dissatisfaction with the present moment because it is not as it used to be.

The past is over and done with. The way to address all delusions is with mindful awareness as the watcher of our thoughts and emotions. When we calmly see the delusion of past-ing arising, we see it as the delusion it is, and neither indulge it by acting it out, nor resist it with judgment, hatred, or other form of aversion. We just note the impersonal, impermanent, and unsatisfactory nature of the delusion and watch it until it goes away on its own, as is its nature to do.

For more information on past-ing, check out the post Relax and release: Letting go of the past.

 

Peace

See equanimity.

 

pity

Feeling sorry for someone in a manner that closes your heart to their suffering. It is an empty gesture of sympathy for others, that lacks any true intimacy and heartfelt feeling.

Pity often contains an implicit hierarchy that judges yourself as superior to those that are suffering. Because of this perceived superiority, you need not open your heart to their pain. Don’t take personally any sense of superiority you find in yourself, it is there due to causes and conditions that are outside of your control. Just know it is unskillful and do your best to not act on it.

If pity is present, see if you cannot relax your heart and chest as much as possible to open your heart up to the pain of those you feel sorry for. Mindfully play and experiment with trying to feel true compassion for them.

 

Relative truth

Relative truth is a helpful or useful way of understanding something that is not actually true. Relative truth stands contrary to absolute truth which is the way things actually are.  These terms can best be explained through an analogy. From our limited perspective of living on the earth, it appears that the sun rises in the morning. The concept of “sunrise” is a relative truth. It is a useful and accurate description of what is happening from our limited perspective. However, the absolute truth, as seen from space, is that the sun never rises. It is the earth spinning that causes to sun to appear to rise and set.

As in this example, relative and absolute truths often contradict each other, even though both have validity in their own way. This can lead to paradoxes, and for some, confusion. Mindful awareness is comfortable with both paradox, contradictions, and confusion, because it sees things directly as they are, without filtering it through concepts and language.

Relative truths are almost always based on language and concepts. Absolute truths are based on reality as-it-is, and can best be appreciated with a mind free of concepts. For example, conceptually there is past and future. These are relative truths, in that these concepts of past and future help us schedule meetings, plan travel, and so on. But the absolute reality is that the present moment is all there is. We experience life as one, continuous, eternal present-moment. The past no longer exists. It only exists as memories that occur in the now. The “future” is similarly mental imaginings about what might or may happen, but such imaginings occur in the now. Neither past nor future have any objective reality outside of our minds or outside of the now. All that exists is the present moment. The relative truth of past and future is conceptually based. The absolute truth of the present being all there is, is based on experiential reality, and needs to concepts to understand it.

The ego, which is conceptually-based, mistakes relative truths to be “the absolute truth” all of the time, and this results in confusion, disappointment, and frustration. As your meditation practice develops, the ego may also greedily cling to absolute truths and apply them unskillfully. Thankfully, mindful awareness can understand and appreciate both relative and absolute truths simultaneously and use them appropriately and skillfully to move through life with wisdom. 

 

renunciation

Non-greed. A mental and emotional state or intention that is free of wanting, grasping, and addiction. Renunciation is the opposite of, and the alternative to, the delusional state or intention of greed. Greed is externally-focused, whereas renunciation is internally-focused.

In the state of renunciation, you feel complete and whole as you are. You still engage with life, but you no longer seek to find happiness where it cannot be found, in the outcomes of external situations. When renunciation is present, you know your happiness, peace, and satisfaction comes from within, and is always with you. When renunciation is present, you continuously maintain your mindful awareness on that internal, felt-sense of peace, calmness, and happiness.

This is a deeply satisfying state and a deeply satisfying intention for your actions to flow from.

Synonym: non-greed, freedom, non-addiction
Antonym: greed

 

Resistance

See aversion.

 

Skillful

An adjective used to describe thoughts, states of being, and behaviors that benefit yourself, other people, other beings, and all life forms. This word is used as a beneficial substitute for the words “right” and “good.” The words “right” and “good,” when used to describe someone, a group, or their behavior, at times contains judgment and actively justifies creating a hierarchy that gives preferential treatment to those labeled “right” and “good” over those labeled “wrong” and “bad.” In contrast, the word “skillful” contains no judgment or implications of hierarchy or special treatment. Skillful merely acknowledges the fact that the behavior benefits yourself, other people, other beings, and all of life, while still affirming the value, worth, and dignity of all beings and life forms, and the need to treat them with love, kindness, and compassion, whether they behave skillfully or not.

 

Self-ing

When you are caught up in the delusion of self-view, you are self-ing.

 

Self-view

A fundamental delusion responsible for most of our suffering. When self-view is present, we take everything personally. We mistake ourselves to be the body, thoughts, stories, emotions, habit patterns, history, illness, sensations. Through the concept of “my” we mistake our property to relationships to

Anything we take to be “me” or “mine” is the delusion of self-view, and causes us to suffer. It is more beneficial and accurate to recognize the mysterious mindful awareness in us to be our essential nature and identity. The rest is simply conditioned nature, unfolding lawfully, due to causes and conditions outside of our control, and liable to the law of impermanence.

Synonyms: Identification

 

soul

The Life that resides within the body. For a more thorough explanation of Life, see Life.

 

Source

See Life.

 

States of being

The four states of being are: love, peace, compassion, and joy. These states are the most natural, pure, and strongest states of the heart and mind. These states arise from our deepest essence, fundamental nature, and true self. They are the default state of homeostasis for the body, heart, and mind.

Active delusions hide, obscure, overshadow, and cover up our connection to these deeper, more fundamental states. As it stands, our biological and cultural conditioning causes the nearly-constant generation of delusion within our minds, hearts, and bodies. Because delusion is so prevalent, some of us rarely, if ever, experience these deeper states of being, though they are always with us.

We can deactivate delusions by mindfully noting them when they arise; seeing them as falsehoods, lies, and distortions; and not giving them any validity or credence. If the delusion is strong, the disturbing emotions they generate may remain despite our mindfulness of it. In such a case, we may use the FEEL Technique to skillfully address these delusion-based emotions.

Unlike ego-based emotional states, the states of being are outside of the dualistic nature of human emotions. For example, egoic wanting and lust (often confused for love) can quickly turn into the egoic states of hatred and cruelty. True love, peace, joy, or compassion, however, will never encourage nor turn into egoic states. They can be hidden by delusion, but they are never the cause for delusion to arise.

The more we are mindful of these states of being when we experience them, the easier it is for the wisdom of the body to tune into these states, find its way back to these states, and live from these states as we go about our lives.

Synonyms: Divine abodes

 

suffering

Psychological unpleasantness, experienced as unpleasant mental or emotional states. Suffering results from resisting the present moment (the delusion of aversion) or desiring it to be otherwise (the delusion of greed).

Suffering is generated by delusion-containing, conscious or unconscious thoughts and stories that are mistakenly believed to be true. For example, if you got a flat tire on a rainy night, the brain may think, “Just my luck! Why does this always happen to me?! Why does God allow this to happen to me? God must hate me. I hate my life. I wish I was dead.” When such delusional thoughts are believed by you, fear, anger, depression, stress, anxiety, and other disturbing emotions arise causing you to suffer. 

We often make a distinction between pain and suffering, with pain referring to unpleasant bodily sensations, and suffering referring to psychological suffering. In most cases, psychological unpleasantness makes up the bulk of the pain and suffering that a person experiences. Thankfully, psychological suffering is unnecessary. By training the mind through meditation, being mindfully aware throughout the day, and learning to spot the delusions as they arise, one can start to reduce and eventually eliminate psychological suffering from the equation.

Synonyms: Misery

 

Clown fish are one of the many species of fishes that are able to change their sexual anatomy. The egoic conceptual mind likes to categorizes things into tidy boxes, but Life loves diversity and is far too fluid and nuanced for the egoic mind to understand this reality.

Clown fish are one of the many species of fishes that are able to change their sexual anatomy. The egoic conceptual mind likes to categorizes things into tidy boxes, but Life loves diversity and is far too fluid and nuanced for the egoic mind to understand this reality.

transgender

The Center for Equality writes, “Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity vary from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.

“Gender identity is someone’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or as someone outside of that gender binary). For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match. Trying to change a person’s gender identity is no more successful than trying to change a person’s sexual orientation — it doesn’t work.”

At the Boundless Love Project, we love, value, and cherish transgender people. Like you, transgender people want to be happy and be free from suffering. Like you, they want to be respected and understood.

Transgender people serve a vital role in helping all people break out of the rigid, delusional fixed-view that there is only male and female, and a person is either one or the other. This fixed-view, has created much suffering for all people by enforcing rigid gender roles, and devaluing female-bodied, intersex, and transgender people.

Thank you transgender people for your gift in helping all of humanity awaken out of our delusion. May you be safe and protected, peaceful and happy, healthy and strong, and may your heart be at ease in all situations.

Learn more about transgender people at the The Center for Equality website.

 

Trapped energy

Non-tranquil emotions like fear, panic, anger, hatred, addiction, or lust that are imprisoned inside of the body. Trapped energies are typically in a dormant state and have no effect on us, until triggered.

Trapped energies arise, or become active, when they are triggered as a result of an internal feeling or thought, or external experience that is similar to the feelings, thoughts, and experience where the energies originally became trapped. For example, is someone was trapped in a closet and experienced a lot of panic that you resisted feeling, that panic becomes trapped energy. Now that trapped energy may be triggered and cause panic to arise anytime that person is in an enclosed space, even though they are totally safe. In fact, the tell-tale sign that trapped energy has been triggered is that the triggered person over-reacts to a situation in an irrational, unskillful manner.

Energies are trapped inside of us whenever we experience them in a tense, constricted, or unmindful manner. This happens when we relate to the experience in a greedy or aversive manner. That is why in meditation we learn to be mindfully aware of everything pleasant and unpleasant, simply noticing it and seeing it as impermanent and impersonal. By being calm, relaxed, peaceful, and mindfully aware of the energies of thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise and pass away, it prevents those energies from becoming trapped.

For more information on trapped energies and how to release them, check out the post Relax and release: Letting go of the past.

 

Triggered

The arising or activation of trapped energies which previously had been dormant. Trapped energies lie dormant in the body and are activated when a thought, feeling, or experience arises that is similar in some way to the original experience where the energy was trapped. For example, let’s say someone badmouthed you to a friend behind your back causing you to lose that friend. When you learned what happened, you felt a lot of sadness that you resisted feeling, causing that energy to become trapped. Now that trapped energy may be triggered, causing you to feel a deep sadness, any time a friend slights you by not immediately responding to a text or being unable to make your party due to a family emergency. This sadness arises even though they are still your friend and love you dearly. In fact, the tell-tale sign that trapped energy has been triggered is that the triggered person over-reacts to a situation in an irrational, unskillful manner.

The skillful way to respond when trapped energies have been triggered is to “relax and release.” This slogan is short for calmly, patiently, relaxing the mind and body, as this allows energies to move freely through your system and then release on their own. This is easier said that done, so here is a fuller description of how to do it. When you are triggered, first refrain from doing or saying anything, as it will most likely be unskillful. Secondly, take a mini-breath-meditation to calm and relax the mind and body, and mindfully observe the thoughts, feelings, and sensations without acting them out, pushing them away, or taking them personally. Finally, do this as long as is necessary for the energies to go away on their own as is their nature to do. By doing this, you will release some of those trapped energies and be less reactive in the future.

This process of “relax and release” is easier said that done. Thankfully, insight meditation trains us in this “relax and release” method, so we are better able to do this when triggered during our daily life.

For more information on triggering trapped energy and how to do the process of "relax and release," check out the post Relax and release: Letting go of the past.

 

true self

See Life.

 

Truth

What is left when there is no delusion present. The truth is simply seeing reality as it is, without adding anything to it, and without taking anything away from it. The truth has nothing to do with adopting the “right” ideas, beliefs, or stories. In fact, mistaking ideas, beliefs, and stories to be the truth, prevents us from knowing the truth. The truth can only be known and experienced non-conceptually by mindful awareness.

 

Unconscious

Lacking free will. When we are unconscious our behaviors are controlled entirely by our conditioning. Our ego is entirely conditioned, and when we are enslaved by our ego, we are completely unconscious, having no free will.

 

Unskillful

An adjective used to describe thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that harm yourself and/or other people, beings, or life forms. Use of this word contains no judgment and is often used as a skillful substitute for the words “wrong” and “bad.” The words “wrong” and “bad,” when used to describe someone or their behavior, typically contains judgment and implies or actively justifies directing ill-will, punishment, and hostility towards that person. In contrast, the word “unskillful” contains no judgment, hostility, or ill-will. It merely acknowledges the fact that the behavior causes harm to self and/or others, while still affirming the value, worth, and dignity of the individual and the need to treat them with love, kindness, and compassion.

 

Wanting

See greed.

 

watcher

The part of us that observes the mind and body in a calm, peaceful and detached manner. The watcher can clearly see delusions of the mind as delusions, emotions as emotions, sensations as sensations, habit-patterns as habit-patterns without adding any story, thoughts, or ideas to them. The watcher is a higher level of consciousness than the mind, which can only understand concepts. The watcher has the ability to understand deeper wisdom that is beyond words, thoughts, and stories. The watcher can understand paradox and see the truth of reality as it really is, without needing the filter of the conceptual mind. The watcher emanates from our essential nature.

When we are mindful, we are the watcher. When we are the watcher, we are peaceful and calm regardless of our circumstances. The more we live as the watcher, the faster our wisdom, peace, love, compassion, and joy grows.

 

wisdom traditions

This phrase lovingly refers to all world religions, all sectarian philosophies, and all schools of science. All of these sources of knowledge contain powerful truths that can help us reach enlightenment, but we must also be skeptical of them as well, because all of them have also been corrupted by egoic delusion and can lead us astray. As you become more mindful, your innate wisdom will help you see what is true, skillful, and helpful, and what is untrue, delusional, and unskillful.